Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ensemble Economique: Standing Still, Facing Forward

I have always been a bit skeptical of the movie soundtrack as a listening experience independent of the film for which it is ascribed, but I am fascinated with the idea of a soundtrack for a film that doesn't exist. Brian Eno, of course, brought this idea into popular music, but hauntology, (and the folks at Ghost Box), has taken this to a slightly different place; a nostalgia for films that seem like they might have existed, but never have.

Brian Pyle's Ensemble Economique new album Standing Still, Facing Forward is a soundtrack to a surrealist horror film, an orchestral backdrop played against a expressionist silent movie, a memory of a something shown late on a Saturday night when you were a child; none of which ever existed, but you are certain you saw them. There is something immediate to this music, and while there are natural sounds (birds, storms), nothing is given away. Images of jungles become crypts become deserts become basements become dark corners become other worlds entirely.

From a technical point of view, it would probably be a thrill to watch Pyle work, to see what goes into the crafting of these pieces, what he sketches beforehand, and what his own imaginary films look like. Admittedly, this is a pretty dark record. There is not a lot of space to catch a hopeful breath. But the sheer creative impulse behind it makes so many things seem possible.

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